Without forests, we as a species could not survive. Trees are the lungs of our planet, soaking up the (ever-increasing) carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, and in return giving us the sweet gift of oxygen. Unfortunately, our forests are currently in dire condition. At the current rate of deforestation, experts warn that we may see a treeless world in as soon as 100 years.
If such an idea frightens the wits out of you, you wouldn’t be alone. Thankfully, there are many people, and more importantly governments, around the world standing up in efforts to stop this horrific destruction. Just this week, the Narendra Modi government in India announced plans to spend $6.2 billion to create forests across the country. The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, as they are calling it, will increase India’s forest cover from 21.34 percent of the total land to 33 percent. The increase in greenery would also result in the creation of a 2.5 billion tonne of carbon sink.
The bill, which has already been passed by lawmakers in India’s lower house, is now waiting to be passed by the upper house. Considering the money to fuel the project is coming directly from fees paid by various private companies and other entities that have set up projects on forest land, the government would not be taking on any additional financial burden to the central government.
While on the surface, this plan seems like a totally selfless and amazing act done by the Indian government, certain scientists are stepping forwards and voicing concerns. For example, Sreedhar Ramamurthi, an earth scientist, and management trustee at NGO Environs Trust, warns that there should be heavy monitoring on the funds allocated for the project stating, “many a times, forest officials themselves burn down forests when they are pressed for target completion and complain that their work was lost in fires.”
Others are voicing concerns over how and where India’s government plans to develop these new forests – literally. “Are you going to throw away people from their land to develop new forests?” Ramamurthi asks, “If so, why did you allow forests to be depleted in the first case?” Fair question…
Although there are clearly still questions in the air as to how this whole project will be set in motion and executed, as a species, we unfortunately, are left with no other choice but to explore every possible solution to the rampant deforestation happening on the planet. As with any government, there is room for corruption and deceit. Hopefully with some bright minds working together, we will be able to figure out the details of this project and make it realistic and feasible. Similarly, as long as a system of checks and balances is set in place to monitor this project, all funds will be used to their optimal capacity.
It is our duty as inhabitants of this incredible rotating sphere we all call home, to do everything in our power to help it not only survive, but thrive. While this project is not correcting all of the causes of deforestation, we are glad that at least something (anything) is being done to tackle this monumental problem and make the world a little bit greener.
Image Source: Loren Kerns/Flickr